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article imageAnalysts: Mubarak's trial instructive for all African dictators

By Joan Firstenberg     Aug 6, 2011 in World
Cairo - It's a trial to be noted. Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak sits in a cell in a Cairo courtroom, thrown out of office by a popular uprising earlier this year. He's being asked to explain crimes committed against his people during that uprising.
Mubarak's trial is being seen by some analysts as a watershed moment in Africa's history, where a former dictator is being held to account for his alleged crimes against his own people. The Voice of America reports that this is a trial that Africans never thought they would see. Mubarak is charged with ordering the killings of protesters during a January uprising.
Dr. Tim Hughes of the South Africa Institute for International Affairs says
“It’s unprecedented in Egyptian terms; it is unusual in African terms, to topple a president midterm and bring him to judicial trial. It's unchartered territory for Africa. We have had coup d’états, and uprisings but not a situation where judiciary actually gets to bring a former president to trial.”
Hughes points out that there is a wave of popular protests in countries like Uganda, where President Yoweri Museveni, has been in power for 25 years, the potential for significant protest in Swaziland and maybe even in Zimbabwe.
Hughes points out that constitutional term limits have worked well in countries like Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa. But the situation is different in nations with rulers who can just extend their terms of power because they hold onto natural resources like oil. That includes rulers in Angola and Equatorial Guinea. Uganda also falls into this category when it leader Museveni exploits its oil and extends his term even more.
Iran sees the Mubarak trial in terms of how it will affect U.S. power in the region. Almasry Alyoum reports that the trial will be a problem for the U.S.
It quotes analyst Parviz Sorouri, a member of Iran's parliamentary committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, who told Iran's news agency that the trial of Mubarak has reduced the importance of US policies in the Middle East and negatively affected US hegemony over the region.
"The powers controlling the world are attempting to ruin the Egyptian revolution through military intervention and soft power, but have failed. The trial of Mubarak is a lesson to all rulers who suppress popular movements in their countries through arrests, intimidation and killing. The Egyptian people will not allow the US to hijack their revolution, and have sent a message to the world that any nation that insists on standing up against oppression will eventually win."
The former Egyptian leader now lies on a stretcher clothed in white prison overalls, behind bars. Mubarak has denied all of the charges levelled against him.
He is accused of economic corruption, striking an illegal business deal involving gas exports to Israel, and unlawfully killing protesters during the 18-day uprising against his reign.
Mubarak's two sons and co-defendants, Alaa and Gamal – the latter having once been Mubarak's presumed heir to the presidency have also pleaded innocent. Former interior minister Habib el-Adly and six of his senior police deputies also face similar charges.
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